Creator of the famous Obedience Experiments and originator of the six degrees of separation” theory, Stanley Milgram transformed our understanding of human nature and continues to be one of the most important figures in psychology and beyond. In this sparkling biography, Thomas Blass captures the colorful personality and pioneering work of a visionary scientist who revealed the hidden workings of our social world. In this new paperback edition, he includes an afterword connecting Milgram’s theories to torture, war crimes, and Abu Ghraib.read more
Interesting to read more about Milgram and the ground-breaking social psychology experiments he did in the sixties. He's probably best-known for the "obedience studies" (one person supposedly administering electric shocks to another under the supervision of an authority figure) and the "small worlds" studies (aka the "six degrees of separation" for linking one person to another). There was good coverage of the obedience work, but in my opinion, the small worlds work got very little notice in the book. I would like to have seen more on that, since social media and web2.0 are such hot topics currently. One more note - I was somewhat surprised by the repeated discussion of the ethics of the various experiments. Milgram was the focus for a lot of ethical controversy surrounding the obedience work. To his credit, he was one of the first in the field to have an a priori, well-reasoned perspective on the ethical aspects of the experiments. Nevertheless, there was still much controversy.read more
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Social psychologist Stanley Milgram achieved a precocious fame in the early 1960s with his controversial "obedience experiments": subjects posing as "teachers" willingly gave what they believed were powerful electric shocks to innocent "learners" simply because a man in a lab coat told them to. For better and worse, as Blass shows in this unsatisfyingly superficial portrait, the experiments overshadowed the rest of Milgram's career; his pioneering research on the "six degrees of separation" in social networks and studies in urban psychology never achieved the same ?clat. As Blass shows, the simultaneous revulsion and fascination the obedience research elicited probably cost Milgram tenure at Harvard a loss that this superachiever may never have gotten over and other professional honors. So the downward arc of Milgram's life (ending with his premature death at 51 in 1984) leaves Blass with a tough narrative task, which he doesn't negotiate well. Blass, a social psychologist and the leading authority on Milgram, does a workmanlike job of describing Milgram's research and its significance, but he neglects the man's interior life almost entirely. Milgram's family life is depicted episodically, his relations with wife and children unexplored, and Blass mentions Milgram's use of cocaine and other drugs almost as an aside before returning hurriedly to more pleasant matters. Milgram's genius and wit are apparent, but the dark side of a man described by his own brother as arrogant and by Blass himself as dictatorial and mercurial is never explored. Readers are left wondering who this man really was who devised the most fascinating, disturbing and devilish social psychology experiment in history. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved